Ellen Clifford
Updated Jun 25, 2014 @ 4:02 pm

There is something to be said for being self-sufficient. I never was a girl scout but I like knowing that if stranded in the wilderness with a full set of camping equipment, I’d know how to pitch that dang tent. In my kitchen, however, I am almighty. If stranded in a home with no mustard, I could make my own. The America’s Test Kitchen Do-It-Yourself Cookbook taught me. I adore pretty much anything by the America’s Test Kitchen/Cook’s Illustrated crew. They go in depth into how they arrived at their recipes. They test and experiment endlessly. They get all science-y (technical term) on us and I love it.

They also have step-by-step pictures of the processes in the recipes. Somehow straining your flavor infusions through a cheesecloth becomes less intimidating when you see exactly what it looks like to do that. And unlike a cooking show, in which the visual aids zoom by so fast you miss them, a book allows you time to stare down the recipe until it makes sense.

Granted, I still found some of the recipes intimidating. A”Big-Batch” of anything to me in the kitchen is like a Big Bear is in the forest: scary, and possibly deflected with a pot of honey. Canning and preserving recipes also still scare me but not because they sound like complicated recipes. They scare me because I’m a single girl. If I had a giant batch of fresh berry preserves I’d probably just eat it all—in a night. If I had a roommate, I’d at least save some for their breakfast toast.

However, this book is full of approachable recipes in quantities I could handle, or in quantities I could easily modify to meet my singleton needs. And what I couldn’t scale down, I could pawn off on my improv team i.e. my unwitting guinea pigs. My Recipe Worthiness Rating increases exponentially with Rate of Consumption by Teammates. Look at me getting all math-y with it.

Fun fact: I am a fiend for mustard. It’s grilling season, so I think there are multiple uses for it right now. My personal favorite use for mustard is on rye bread with some swiss cheese, which has nothing to do with grilling but that is okay. Plus a batch of this stuff stays good in the fridge for a few months. It took a trip to a natural foods store to procure both brown and yellow mustard seeds but again, that is okay. This is self-sufficiency so a specialty store pilgrimage is all part of the adventure. I made the basic mustard recipe, then made a variation using port wine, which also proved delicious and a beautiful color to boot.

Make this, feel strong and get liberated from the corporate clutches of French’s and Grey Poupon.

Whole Grain Mustard adapted from America’s Test Kitchen D.I.Y. Cookbook

  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar (for port alternative I used sherry wine vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/4 cup brown mustard seeds
  • 1/4 cup beer (First time around I used white wine be because I don’t like beer. Next time I used port wine and added a little more than 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tsp. packed light brown sugar (I didn’t add to the port version but in the future I will!)
  • 3/4 tsp. salt

Mix the vinegar, mustard seeds and beer in a bowl (don’t use metal or the vinegar will have gnarly reactions). I used a glass bowl.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit there on the counter for at least 8 hours and up to two days. I waited the two days for the flavor to develop.

After that, scrape it into your food processor with the sugar and salt and process the heck out of it. I used my immersion blender for the port wine batch. Both options worked!

Transfer it to a jar with a lid. Allow to stand at room temperature another 1-2 days (patience, my child). It mellows over this time so taste after one day. If you want it less spicy, then wait. It gets thicker as time goes by too. After that, tuck it into your refrigerator and enjoy for the next three months!